As a database administrator, you have a crucial job – to ensure that an organization’s database and related systems are functional, secure, and efficient. Likewise, they must build a database environment that has minimal downtime and minimizes slowdowns.
What’s more, a database administrator must gauge when the need for additional storage and access to databases is needed. This aspect of the job ensures that businesses and organizations have the capacity to grow and that the needed database infrastructure is in place to accommodate that growth.
With so many applications and programs relying on databases to run smoothly, and with so many businesses and organizations using databases for their operations, it’s no wonder that database administrators are in high demand.
But as with any career, there are pros and cons to being a database administrator. Let’s have a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of this job.
Some jobs in the information technology sector can be a little tedious. But this isn’t the case with database administration.
Aside from designing and developing database systems, administrators check for database security, teach colleagues how to access databases, and maintain databases.
Additionally, database administrators optimize the performance of their systems, troubleshoot problems, and help integrate other systems into the database network.
Of course, these are just the duties of a typical database administrator. There are also many specializations in this field.
One of the main benefits of becoming a database administrator is that you can specialize and work in a particular area that’s of interest to you.
For example, you might become a database architect. In that case, you would be responsible for designing and developing new database systems. As another example, you might specialize in database security and devise new ways of protecting the information contained within databases from attack.
These are just two examples of database specializations. There are many, many more that you can consider as you explore this line of work.
According to PayScale, the average yearly salary for database administrators is $74,000. Since this is the average, the income potential falls within a much broader scale.
For instance, new database administrators that have recently graduated from college might expect to earn around $48,000 per year. While this is much lower than the overall average, it is still a very respectable salary right out of college.
But, with experience comes much higher earning potential. The most experienced database administrators can earn six figures.
With the increasing usage of databases by organizations big and small, good database administrators have excellent job security.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can start a job and expect to have it for 30 years. But, if you are well educated, reliable, do good work, and have a broad skill set, you can expect that your services will be in demand for the long term.
Related to the previous point, database administrators have skills that can be used in virtually any workplace or industry.
For example, you might start out as a database administrator for a construction company in Maryland but then get a new job with a tech startup in Silicon Valley. Likewise, the skills you have for developing and securing databases for private clients might help you get a job doing the same thing for a government agency.
The more transferable your skills are, the more likely you are to have job security over the course of your career.
As a database administrator, you don’t necessarily have to be on-site to do your job.
Instead, you can work from home or work as you travel – which is a considerable benefit for many workers in today’s economy.
Additionally, you don’t always have to stick to a typical Monday-Friday, 8-5 schedule. This is a flexible job that allows many workers to attend to their duties on their own time rather than on a set schedule.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that job growth for database administrators will be about eight percent through 2030. This represents just average job growth.
While average job growth is nothing to complain about, it is low compared to other jobs in the tech industry, some of which are experiencing growth in the 20-30 percent range.
Still, it’s estimated that more than 13,000 database administration jobs will be created or become available over the course of the 2020s. That’s a lot of jobs, but competition for them will likely be fierce.
When things are operating as they should, database administration is perhaps a low-key job.
However, when problems arise, this can be an incredibly stressful job with long hours, late nights, and working on holidays or weekends to rectify the problem.
Another component of this is stress related to working with people that aren’t tech-savvy. Not everyone understands what a database is, let alone how to use it. It often falls to database administrators to teach others how to safely access databases. Teaching others to do so can be stressful if they aren’t familiar with technology.
While many database administration jobs only require a bachelor’s degree, it’s also often a requirement that applicants have specialized training or certifications.
This means that you might spend four years getting a relevant bachelor’s degree, plus up to a year to complete a certificate program. And once you find a job, continuing education might be required. Even if it isn’t, continually updating your knowledge and skills is a must for this career.
In some cases, you’ll find that higher-level jobs with higher salaries require you to have a master’s degree. Even for some entry-level positions, though, you might be asked to have additional education and experience beyond a bachelor’s degree.
Despite this and the other disadvantages listed above, database administration is a career that offers many benefits. Before starting a program of study, take time to explore these and other pros and cons to determine if this is the career path for you.